Journo: Stop Normalizing the Palestinian Movement

Let’s stop normalizing the Palestinian movement | TheHill

….By negating the need for objective moral judgment and acting on it, our policymakers have landed us in a dead-end situation that sells out our ideal of individual freedom and harms our regional ally, Israel. We need to begin undoing that pattern. For a start: Stop normalizing the Palestinian movement. Stop brushing aside and playing down its crimes and vicious aims. Stop pretending that one faction, Fatah, is somehow well-intentioned — a fact refuted by its murderous, tyrannical history, not to mention its openness to allying with Hamas. Let’s recognize that the Palestinian movement is deeply hostile to individual freedom, and treat it accordingly.

Stubblefield: Separation of Education and State

Robert Stubblefield has penned this excellent letter to the Aiken Standard on why “School vouchers have benefit outside of religion“:

Star Parker’s recent column noted that school voucher programs could allow religious parents to shield their children from bad ideas currently taught in government schools. Evolution, abortion and gay marriage are bad ideas to many religionists. Note that secularists might use vouchers to avoid their children being taught such ideas as profit is bad, sacrifice is good, words are equivalent to sticks and stones, and that racism to get diversity is OK.

(Alternatively, tax credits for education would also allow such avoidance of government indoctrination without funds first flowing through the hands of sticky-fingered, bureaucracy-expanding government bureaucrats, who could set requirements – that a school qualifies for a program only if government-approved ideas are taught – more easily than a legislature could.)

The fundamental fact is that the government’s virtual monopoly on education means every student is taught content and methods approved by the government. And the dismal results of our educational system are so well-known that late-night TV shows have frequent man-in-the-street interviews illustrating people’s ignorance of geography, history, our form of government, current events … much worse than the missing and confused content of students’ minds is the fact that they lack the correct methods of thinking. Many act as if public opinion establishes fact and feelings yield knowledge. They are not taught to think in principles because the ruling educational philosophy is pragmatism, which holds that there are no principles.

For a superlative analysis of what government schools have done to abuse education and what a free system can do better, see the book “Teaching Johnny to Think” by Leonard Peikoff and Marlene Trollope.

But the main point I want to make is about the relation of this issue to the principle of the separation of church and state. The Founding Fathers recognized the potential tyranny of giving the government control of religious ideas. At the time there were no governments monopolizing the ideas educators promulgated. If there had been, they might have seen the church/state separation rule as a narrower instance of a broader principle: there should be an ideology/state separation. The state should have no role in promoting or decrying any particular set of ideas. Its sole job is to protect the individual rights of its citizens from the initiation of force at home and abroad. — Robert Stubblefield

Matt Ridley on How Fossil Fuels are Greening the Planet

“[H]alf of that greening comes from carbon dioxide itself. In other words, the fact that we’re putting more carbon dioxide into the air means there’s more fuel to grow plants and when a plant has more carbon dioxide in yet doesn’t have to open its pores so much so it doesn’t lose so much water in absorbing the carbon dioxide that it needs to grow and so there’s tons of experiments now showing that plants grow faster if there’s more carbon dioxide in the air; roughly speaking on average for a 200 parts per million increase in carbon dioxide in the air you get a 30% improvement in plant growth. That’s experiments both in the field and in the laboratory. So it’s really quite a remarkable phenomenon here because of the burning of fossil fuels we’re making the planet greener. It’s an astonishing discovery I think. I think it’s rather amazing and of course it’s an incredibly unwelcome discovery for the environmental movement. They don’t want to hear this at all and how is it possible…” – Matt Ridley

Peter Schwartz on Trump’s Perversion of the America First Principle

Writes Peter Schwartz at TheHill on ‘America First:’ Rethinking the meaning of self-interest:

On his latest foreign trip to Asia, President Trump again invoked the idea of “America first.” As someone who is repelled by Trump and his presidency, I am a little reluctant to justify something he nominally upholds. But, actually, his support for it is all the more reason it needs to be clarified and defended — defended not only against those who criticize it, but against those, like Trump, who embrace it for the wrong reasons.

Schwartz succinctly identifies that “America First” means a policy of “taking action to defend the individual rights of Americans” and that to sacrifice those inalienable rights for “the nation” is a contradiction in terms.

A nation’s self-interest consists of the interests of its citizens. And there is one fundamental social value that is in everyone’s interest: individual freedom. The ultimate goal of American foreign policy — the end to which all alliances and confrontations are the means — is the preservation of Americans’ freedom against attacks from abroad. “America first” is a policy of taking action to defend the individual rights of Americans — the rights to their property, to their liberty, to their lives — when they are physically threatened.

Concomitantly, it is a policy of refusing to sacrifice those rights by elevating the needs of other nations above our own. 

Schwartz then shows that “Trump’s interpretation of ‘America first’ is shaped by the collectivist notion of economic nationalism”:

A foreign policy based on self-interest, therefore, embraces free trade, with everyone (leaving aside dealings with countries that pose military dangers to us) allowed to seek out the best products at the lowest prices — which is, incidentally, how the entire society prospers. This is radically different from Trump’s outlook. Trump cannot conceive of trade as being mutually beneficial. Instead, he argues that one party’s gain comes only at another’s loss. His ideal is the conniving wheeler-dealer, master of the “art of the deal,” who manages to put one over on his partner. His view of human interaction is that one must be either victimizer or victim, predator or prey. So he calls on the government to intervene and decide who is to be favored and who is to be sacrificed.

Read the rest:  ‘America First:’ Rethinking the meaning of self-interest

Onkar Ghate: Why Ayn Rand Would Have Despised a President Trump

Philosopher Onkar Ghate at The Ayn Rand Institute has a penetrating article on the anti-intellectualism of President Trump, aptly titled “Why Ayn Rand Would Have Despised a President Trump“. Quoting from the article:

Trump’s salient characteristic as a political figure is anti-intellectuality. Because Rand saw this mentality as on the rise (she called it the anti-conceptual mentality), she had a lot to say about it, and it’s illuminating how much of it fits Trump.

In Rand’s terms, to be intellectual is to sustain through life the conviction that ideas matter. This means that knowledge, abstract principles, justice and truth are of personal importance to you, embedded in everything you value and informing your every action. “To take ideas seriously,” Rand says, “means that you intend to live by, to practice, any idea you accept as true.”

This is a demanding responsibility. To be intellectual requires real independence of judgment and enduring honesty and integrity. It’s not just that Trump lacks these virtues; in comparison to, say, Jefferson, Washington or Madison, most of today’s politicians do. It’s that Trump projects disdain for these virtues.

On cable news, it’s now a regular feature for reporters like CNN’s Anderson Cooper to catalog Trump’s latest lies. But to call them lies misses the point. A liar retains some respect for the truth: he tries to conceal his lies, weave a web of deception and make it difficult for his victims to discover the facts. Trump does none of this.

He states, for instance, that his inauguration crowd was the largest ever — when photos of his and past inaugurations are easily accessible. He declares to a national audience that “nobody has more respect for women than I do, nobody” — when the Billy Bush tape of him boasting that he grabs women “by the pussy” is fresh in everyone’s mind. In defense of his Saturday Charlottesville statement, he says that unlike others he waits for the facts to come in before making judgments — when his Twitter outbursts are read by millions.

Trump makes no distinction between truth and falsity, between statements backed by evidence and statements unsupported by any evidence. This is why you can’t catch him in a lie. He doesn’t care.

Rand puts it like this: to an anti-intellectual mentality words are not instruments of knowledge but tools of manipulation. Trump’s description of how he came to use the phrase “Drain the swamp” captures this kind of attitude perfectly.

The phrase, of course, in this context is hollow. By his own admission, Trump was part of the swamp, a master at playing every side of a corrupt political system. To drain the swamp would be to get rid of people like him — not elect them to the presidency. But somebody suggested to Trump that he use the phrase. “I said, ‘Oh, that’s so hokey. That is so terrible.’ I said, ‘All right, I’ll try it.’ So, like, a month ago I said, ‘Drain the swamp.’ The place went crazy. I said, ‘Whoa, watch this.’ Then I said [it] again. Then I started saying it like I meant it, right? And then I said it, I started loving it.”

Onkar’s entire article is worth a read.